Theme: Training for Doctoral Practice at the High End
The 2021 Annual Midwinter Meeting of CCHPTP was held as a virtual event on February 11-12, 2021. Sharon Berry, PhD, CCHPTP Chair opened the meeting by welcoming new and returning participants and by introducing the theme of this year’s meeting, Training for Doctoral Practice at the High End. As many as 71 attendees participated in this first day of programming.
The program began with Jennifer Kelly, PhD, ABPP, APA President providing a powerful presentation of her main presidential priorities—expanding psychology’s role in achieving greater health equity in America. Her presentation examined the numerous health inequities that are present in our society. She detailed some of the main social determinants that contribute to health disparities, including, but not limited to, race, SES, gender and geographical location. In particular, she described the many ways in which physical and mental health outcomes of black and indigenous people of color are poorer when compared to whites. She also highlighted COVID’s impact on mental health and the disparities observed referable to COVID incidence and outcomes. To address these inequities, Dr. Kelly outlined the unique contributions that psychological science and practice can offer in achieving health equity, and she asserted that psychology must position itself as a force for achieving health equity by finding ways to make concrete improvements in overall health of populations affected by disparities. Dr. Kelly went on to describe how APA needs to support individual practitioners’ in their own communities, and she described APA’s Task Force on Health Equity and the recent development of an Advocacy Committee and Advocacy Network to further APA’s goal of promoting health equity in America.
Karen Stamm, PhD, APA Director, Center for Workforce Studies followed Dr. Kelly and provided a detailed picture of current and projected future workforce needs for health service psychologists. In her talk, “Preparing Psychologists for Future Workforce Needs”, Dr. Stamm described how current workforce supply is insufficient to address the unmet needs observed within our healthcare system. She presented data that showed projected future supply and demand needs and spoke on the mismatch between population health goals and the current workforce. Dr. Stamm highlighted several interesting potential areas for opportunity. She spoke of (Blue Ocean) market creation. She highlighted the projected growth of hospitals, the increasing population of older adults and growing Hispanic population as areas with increased demand for psychologists. Dr. Stamm went on to describe data comparing skill areas of master’s degree and doctoral degree trained practitioners. These data highlighted differences in both specificity and complexity at the doctoral level. Dr. Stamm described “human skills” (such as teamwork, leadership, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking and cultural awareness) and how these skills along with flexibility, an understanding of the role of technology, and the ability to articulate these skills to others will benefit HSPs in the future.
Finally, Cathi Grus, PhD, APA Acting Chief Education Officer provided an incredibly thoughtful update on the Education Directorate’s efforts to understand the impact of the COVID pandemic on psychology education and training. In her talk, “Future Possibilities in Clinical and Research Training in Clinical Health Psychology: Impact of 2020”, Dr. Grus described the heightened levels of stress seen within education, and the impact the pandemic has on student’s levels of uncertainty in planning for the future. She detailed several important areas in which the pandemic has impacted psychology education. Specifically, she spoke of the ways in which the pandemic has disrupted or altered clinical training, lead to a rapid shift to online education, altered the kind of research training students receive, and the challenges for competency-based training in a virtual world. She went on to discuss the impact the pandemic may have on the education pipeline given the economic impact on higher education, the potential for declining student enrollment in 2021 (which may be even further impacted by the “enrollment cliff” expected to occur in and around 2026) and the differential impact the pandemic has on students from diverse backgrounds. Dr. Grus then detailed the many ways in which APA is trying to address these concerns by collaborating with training councils and exploring new ways of learning and working, and engaging in advocacy around national, state and program-level issues. Dr. Grus summed up her talk by emphasizing the continued need for competency-based education, the vital incorporation of technology delivery platforms, the need to further our commitment to diversity in the pipeline, and the importance of continuing our work in meeting the needs of society through population health.
The three presentations were followed by an interactive Q&A where concerns about faculty stress and the need for flexible training models were discussed and shared.
Day two of CCHPTP’s Midwinter Meeting began with opening remarks and a brief description of CCHPTP and an invitation for new members. As many as 58 participants were attendance this day.
Leading the program was Eve-Lynn Nelson, PhD, Statewide Director of Kansas Telebehavioral Health Network, University of Kansas Medical Center. Dr. Nelson provided a highly informative session that focused on competencies, supervision needs, and national resources for telebehavioral health. Dr. Nelson began her talk by referencing Dr. Stamm’s data that showed the insufficient supply of psychologists to meet the current and project demands, especially within certain geographic regions and with respect to the disparities seen within certain racial and ethnic groups. She asserted that telebehavioral health has the potential to improve patient experience, outcomes, care team experience at a reduced cost. She cited the growing evidence-based supporting the use and effectiveness of telebehavioral health and the professional guidelines published by prominent national organizations such as APA, AACAP and the American Telemedicine Association. Dr. Nelson then described key competency domains referable to clinical evaluation, decision-making, safety, documentation, legal and regulatory issues, as well as helpful guidelines for providing telehealth to children and adults.
Mitch Handelsman, PhD, University of Colorado-Denver, then led an engaging and interactive talk titled, “Ethical Principles and Pitfalls, Especially in the Pandemic.” In his talk, Dr. Handelsman focused on the ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice/opportunity and discussed their relevance to the current pandemic. He went on to discuss several important situational, cognitive and affective pitfalls or “tripping points” (e.g., ethical framing, anchoring, confirmation bias, and substitution principle) that can make ethical choices more difficult. He engaged participants in two brief breakout sessions that invited a reflection on the kinds of ethical challenges we are facing during the pandemic, as well as a reflection on our own tripping points. Dr. Handelsman concluded by reminding the group that given we all have “blind spots” and are all susceptible to making ethical mistakes, we can reduce our risk by staying in touch with others, checking ourselves with others, and seeking consultation.
The meeting then transitioned into three interactive breakout groups organized by participant interest area (graduate, internship or postdoctoral training). Breakout group participants were invited to discuss practical action steps needed to advance clinical health psychology training into the future. Small group participants were instructed to identify education and training priorities, and to identify specific strategies for developing competency and leading the changing mental health workforce. Participants were encouraged to identify strategies and ethical considerations that could be considered and implemented at the level of individual programs, CCHPTP and within the larger professional. Representatives of each small group provided a summary of their group’s discussion. Topics related to population health, health equity, building diversity, leadership, resource sharing, professional networking, greater integration of substance abuse and chronic mental illness into CHP training were among some of the many priority areas discussed.
The meeting concluded with closing remarks and thanks by CCHPTP Chair, Dr. Sharon Berry.